The Honduras government has announced a reduction to the budgets of the two main public hospitals in the country, as well as a reduction of US$35 million to next year´s national health system budget.
Doctors, nurses, patients and health students in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula went out on the streets to protest against the government´s decision.
"Imagine, with the current budget we already have a crisis, a reduction in the budget will only bring about a bigger crisis. Now patients have to buy, with their money, everything they need for their medical attention. With a new reduction [the government] is guaranteeing a catastrophe for the Honduran people," said Elmer Mayes, president of Honduras Doctors outside the Tegucigalpa Public Hospital before the demonstration.
Mayes also explained that, "With this protest we want to establish the need we have for medicine and supplies, in order to be able to work with patiens. The health crisis is based on the problem that we don´t have what we need to do our job."
Honduras is already the country that spends the least on health per each citizen, at only US$200 dollars a year. That is less than Belize, which spends US$ 350 a year , and Costa Rica, which spends US$1,000 annually per citizen.
In the best of cases, Honduras hospitals have less than 40 percent of what they need to operate, most health centers have less than 20 percent of what is needed. The government hasn´t presented clear arguments on the reasons of the reduction or the options they will offer to the population.
This year the government reduced the budgets of the country's principal hospital, shutting down offices like the Center for Diabetes Patients , which attended more than 800 patients per month.
"We need good attention, but the minister isn´t helping us, because she took all the doctors that were helping us, and now we don´t receive any medicines," said Rosalinda Castro, member of the National Institute for Diabetes Patients.
"The situation with diabetes is very delicate because this disease affects our heart, kidneys, nerves ... we are complicated patients and we need special attention, we need more support not less," said Castro.
Medicine students also joined the protest. "This is a historical demonstration," said Nestor Yanez, medicine student. "We support the nurses, doctors and patients, we are all very worried and we are protesting against this attack by the government on the people of Honduras."
"The government keeps on investing in weapons, and they keep reducing the budgets of health and education, the government has no answer to the reduction of the budget," said Yanez.
"We will keep protesting until we reverse this, everything that the government does against the people, is and can be reversed in the streets, working all together, protesting together," said Yanez as he marched.
The demonstration was heading to the presidential house where the military stopped it. Protestors have announced more actions in the next days, while the government has said that the budgetary reduction is out of their hands because there is no money. This week the government announced that there is a possibility it will purchase new military airplanes.